Ok – So I know I am a little behind on getting these out there – but trying to get ready for the newest edition to Sabres Nation (my wife is due May 20th).
I already gave it to Tim Connolly and Derek Roy, so here are my reports and opinions on the rest of the men at center.
Jochen Hecht: 79 GP, 21G, 21A, 35PIM Grade: B
Not his best outing in a Sabres uniform, but what should have been expected from the German born Center in a contract year. I have always been a fan of Jochen Hecht’s, but he does not fit on this team as a top six center. Plays his best hockey when centering the third line. Since coming to Buffalo from Edmonton for the 2002-2003 season, Jochen Hecht has played well for the Sabres, but not consistent enough. My feelings would not be hurt if they allowed Hecht to go elsewhere via free agency this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me or bring my ire if they were to bring him back. Hecht is going to go anywhere and become a Sabres killer, but hes also not going to develop any more here. The best thing about keeping a player like Hecht around is you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
Paul Gausted: 65GP, 12G, 10A, 82PIM Grade: B
Paul is another one of those players whom, I wouldn’t mind seeing them upgrade, but if you keep him around you know exactly what you are getting. Gaustad’s assets are parked right in front of the net, where he is going to tip in the occasional goal, but more importantly screws with the vision of the opposing goaltender. Matching a career high in goals this year, it would be nice if we could develop Gaustad into a 20 goal scorer, or trade him for someone who is.
Adam Mair: 69GP, 6G, 8A, 73PIM Grade: D
With a guy like Gerbe waiting in the wings, its a wonder why we keep a guy like Adam Mair on the roster. At one point this season we even passed him off on the waiver wire (and luckily for the Sabres he breezed through). He came back with the right attitude when re-inserted into the lineup, but is not the type of center the Sabres need anchoring the third or fourth (primarily fourth) line. Cody MCormick is probably a cheaper and more energetic option at this point for the Buffalo Sabres, and was probably more visible for them in the playoffs. I think its the perfect time to let Mair try on a different sweater next season.
Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick
Gerbe saw limited action this year, and McCormick couldn’t break out of Portland until the post season. I think they did an excellent job of showing Buffalo’s management how NHL ready they really are. McCormick has been in the NHL before with a short stint in Colorado – but he is the type of player the Sabres need to toughen this roster up. While not the perfect answer, adding him to the regular rotation would be a start at getting tougher for next season.